Using a peeler, peel the ridge gourd skin. If the skin is tender, you can use it for making chutney. If not, discard it. The chop the inside part into small cubes. If the seeds are big and hard, discard them, but if it's small and tender, don't worry about them.
I usually peel and chop the vegetable as a part of meal prep during the weekend. Peeled and chopped veggie stays good for about four days when refrigerated.
VVK Tip - Like cucumber, some ridge gourd tastes bitter. Taste a small piece for bitterness while chopping. If the ridge gourd is bitter, then you can't use it for kootu. Sadly you have to discard them. It's hard to find bitter ridge gourd while purchasing. 90% of the time, they are good, but it's better to taste them once before preparing the kootu.
Pressure cook the ridge gourd and the dal -
I went with a stove-top pressure cooker for this recipe. I usually don't cook the veggies directly in the pressure cooker and always use a pot inside.
In a vessel in which you are going to make the kootu and the one that can fit inside the pressure cooker, add the moong dal first. Then add ½ cup water. Now add the chopped ridge gourd on top and then the salt and turmeric powder—no need to mix.
Add about 1 cup of water to the pressure cooker and place this vessel with ridge gourd and pressure cook for three whistles. Let the pressure subside.
Instant Pot Method- If you are using Instant Pot, add the dal directly to the inner pot, followed by ridge gourd, salt, and turmeric. Pressure cook this for 8 minutes at high-pressure manual mode and release the pressure naturally.
As the ridge gourd oozes out water, we don't need to add extra water, both for stove-top and electric pressure cooker.
Grind the podi-
While the ridge gourd is cooking, you can prepare the podi. All you need to do is grind the roasted gram/pottukadalai, cumin seeds, and black peppers. You can grind it coarsely or smoothly according to your preference.
Prepare the kootu-
Now add this kootu podi to the cooked ridge gourd and simmer it for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure the kootu podi is well-mixed, and there aren't any lumps.
When it comes to a boil, turn off the heat.
Prepare the tempering-
In a pan, heat the oil/ghee. When it is hot, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and hing. When the mustard seeds splutter, add some curry leaves and turn off the heat. Add this tempering to the kootu and mix.
That's it. Kootu is ready. Garnish it with cilantro, and you can serve it hot with rice. It pairs well with roti as well.
Instead of ridge gourd, you can use bottle gourd, cucumber, ash gourd, chayote squash for making this kootu. But the cooking time, especially in IP, might vary.
Adjust the salt and pepper according to taste.
Skip asafoetida to make the gravy gluten-free and use oil instead of ghee to make it vegan.
Roasted gram helps to thicken the kootu. If you don't have roasted gram, you can use ½ tsp of chickpeas flour/besan instead.
Skip curry leaves if you don't have. I did not use any cilantro. But you can use cilantro as well.